Suggested Discussion Outline

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In addition to the Suggested Discussion Outline, this section contains two outlines that are referenced in the Suggested Discussion Outline and that Yours truly cribbed from other sources concerning “The Just War Doctrine” as developed by the Roman Catholic Church over 2,000 years and the attitude toward war by C.S. Lewis whose “Tales of Narnia” and other religious works have been made into extremely-popular movies (both outlines were prepared by Yours Truly for another book group in which he participates and which is reading currently a C.S. Lewis biography)]
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johnkarls
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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

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Suggested Discussion Outline –
Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy
By Leslie Gelb


A. Whether “common sense” as applied to American Foreign Policy is a “dummied down” shorthand expression for “Real Politik” (aka National Interest)

A-1. After all, “common sense” (just like “Real Politik”) recognizes that the U.S. has finite resources and must “pick its fights”

A-2. After all, “common sense” (just like “Real Politik”) recognizes the use of America’s finite resources must be prioritized based on what is in the “national interest” (even if an idealist thinks the “national interest” is best served by fighting for humanitarian or democratic ideals)


B. Is the first third of “Power Rules” accurate??? That it is no longer possible for powerful nations to truly dominate weaker ones???

B-1. Does anyone think for a moment that if Hitler had “gotten the bomb” first, or if Stalin’s Russia had been the only nuclear power after WW-II, the world would have escaped worldwide totalitarian domination that might have lasted indefinitely???

B-2. In other words, isn’t it true that the inability of the U.S. to truly dominate weaker nations (e.g., Vietnam and Afghanistan) stems from our unwillingness to be as truly ruthless as Hitler or Stalin???

B-3. Or, in other words, isn’t it true that the world would never have heard of Ghandi if his opponent had been Hitler or Stalin, rather than the relatively-benign Brits???


C. Is the over-arching theme of “Power Rules” accurate that there are many types of power, such as economic and diplomatic in addition to military???

C-1. Isn’t it true that military power is really the “coin of the realm”??? And that diplomatic power is really based, like the Brits during Pax Britanica, on the skillful threat of military power??? And that economic power is relevant only insofar as it finances military power???

C-2. Vis-à-vis the relationship between economic power and military power, isn’t it true that poverty and military prowess are the most dangerous combination??? In other words, would you fear nuclear weapons more in the hands of poverty-stricken desperados or in the hands of wealthy contented countries that want to “live the good life”???


D. Does “Common Sense” really provide much of a guide for helping us decide what to do vis-à-vis the important policy questions facing us today -- such as, for example, what to do (if anything) about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons???

D-1. The last third of “Power Rules” contains zillions of “lists” = for example, 7 American foreign-policy objectives (pp. 239-241), 3 American foreign-policy objectives in the Middle East (pp. 259), and 5 guidelines for common-sense American foreign policy (pp. 297-299). [NB: Incredibly, the list of 3 American foreign-policy objectives in the Middle East ignores the likelihood of a nuclear arms race between Persian Iran and the Arab oil-producing countries!!! This despite (1) "Power Rules" having a 2009 copyright and (2) Hilary Clinton (as well as every Republican Presidential candidate) having a position in the 2008 election cycle of going to war with Iran, as a last resort, in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons!!!]

D-2. Aren’t the principles of “The Just War Doctrine” (though, perhaps, somewhat out-dated in the nuclear age) much more useful in formulating American foreign policy in the real-life challenges facing us???

D-2-a. After all, “common sense” pretty much leaves us adrift in the middle of the ocean with nothing to guide us!!!

D-2-b. Many of the principles of “The Just War Doctrine” are instantly recognized as ideals that permeate essays and articles about how to handle various foreign-policy problems.

[NB: Yours truly is posting separately two outlines that he cribbed from other sources concerning “The Just War Doctrine” as developed by the Roman Catholic Church over 2,000 years and the attitude toward war by C.S. Lewis whose “Tales of Narnia” and other religious works have been made into extremely-popular movies (both outlines were prepared by Yours Truly for another book group in which he participates and which is reading currently a C.S. Lewis biography)]


E. There follows a partial list of considerations regarding America’s immediate foreign-policy challenge (Iran’s nuclear-weapons program) -- and what to do regardless of whether we apply “common sense” or use more detailed principles (such as those of “The Just War Doctrine”) or just resign ourselves to trying to “muddle through” (as the Brits would say) with our eyes open that whatever we do is merely a “roll of the dice” no matter what we decide!!!

E-1. Would a policy of containment be feasible with respect to Iranian nuclear weapons (whether practiced by the U.S., the Arab oil-producing nations and/or Israel)???

E-1-a. In other words, would it be possible to trust Iranian leaders to care about the consequences for their own people of stepping out of line internationally???

E-1-b. Or would Iranian leaders ignore the welfare of their own people, such as Hitler ordering the destruction of Germany at the end of World War II (even though his policy was not implemented by the German military), or such as Kim Jong-Il’s willingness to let millions of his citizens starve???

E-1-c. In this regard, it is noted that Iran’s theocracy is, in fact, democratic. In other words, whether one is an Ayatollah (or any other rank of cleric) in Iran depends upon how many citizens “pray behind you”!!! Which seems to suggest that E-1-a is more likely than E-1-b.

E-2. Regardless of whether Iranian religious leaders (who actually govern Iran) have at heart the best interests of their citizens --

E-2-a. Won’t each of the Gulf State Six (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman) go nuclear as soon as Iran develops nuclear weapons because the Gulf State Six have no more faith in the American “nuclear umbrella” than Charles de Gaulle when he pulled France out of NATO and proceeded to develop French nuclear weapons?

E-2-b. Isn’t 47.9% of the world’s oil supply likely to become radioactive in the near future if Iran and its Arab neighbors are “armed to the teeth” with nuclear weapons?

E-3. If “everything goes wrong” with a policy of containment, followed by a nuclear arms race in the Persian Gulf, followed by 47.9% of the world’s oil supply becoming radioactive, followed by approximately 47.9% of human life on our planet being no longer sustainable --

E-3-a. Would we, as humanitarians, feel it is our duty to manufacture enough cyanide pills to permit 47.9% of the world’s population (including a sizable portion of the American population) to avoid the misery of starvation??? And to avoid the misery of wars, both local and regional, over what scarce resources are available to avoid mass starvation???

E-3-b. Or would we merely avert our eyes and, as is our usually wont, complain about all of the world’s evil doers???

Pat
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The Archduke Ferdinand and The Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.

Post by Pat »

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---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Your Comment About The Archduke Ferdinand Wed Evening
From: Pat
Date: Thur, February 9, 2012 10:47 am
To: John Karls
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Hi John,

At our meeting last evening, you made a reference to the Archduke Ferdinand but our discussion was so quick and far-reaching, I didn’t understand your point.

Could you please elaborate?

Pat


---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Your Comment About The Archduke Ferdinand Wed Evening
From: John Karls
Date: Thur, February 9, 2012 4:23 pm
To: Pat
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Dear Pat,

We were discussing Section E of the Suggested Discussion Outline and I was asked for my own personal views.

In line with the suggestions in Section E, I stated my beliefs that (1) the Iranian religious leaders who actually run Iran can be trusted to care about the welfare of their people because, after all, being an Ayatollah (or any other rank of clergy in Shiite Iran) depends on how many people “pray behind you,” (2) and accordingly, “mutual assured destruction” could be just as successful as it was during The Cold War if it were just a matter of Iranian and American nukes facing each other, (3) but that the Gulf State Six (and probably Turkey and Egypt as well) would each definitely go nuclear as soon as Iran acquires nuclear weapons because they would not trust America’s willingness to commit nuclear suicide for the benefit of any other countries any more than Charles de Gaulle when he pulled France out of NATO and developed French nuclear weapons.

Accordingly, I voiced considerable scepticism whether there wouldn’t be a “flash point” event that would soon thereafter trigger a nuclear holocaust, rendering 47.9% of the world’s oil supplies radioactive.

With regard to a “flash point” event, I called our group’s attention to the fact that Iran was accused recently of trying to assassinate in the U.S. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. and pointed out that the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. is usually one of the 3-4 most important positions in the Saudi government (and in the Saudi Royal Family).

And, accordingly, I pointed out that the Saudi Ambassador was comparable to the Archduke Ferdinand who was first in line at the outset of World War I to the throne of the Habsburg Empire which had been the largest and most important empire on the European Continent for many centuries.

The Archduke, of course, was assassinated by Serbs, touching off World War I.

It would be a much greater tragedy if his modern-day counterpart, the Saudi Ambassador, were assassinated resulting in quick order in 47.9% of the world’s oil supply becoming radioactive.

However, I think I’ve “done my duty” in sounding the alarm, and shouldn’t be asked to help distribute cyanide pills to enable approximately 47.9% of the world’s population (and a sizable portion of the American population) to escape the misery of mass starvation -- and to escape the misery of all the local and regional wars that will be fought over what scarce resources are available to avoid mass starvation.

Your friend,

John K.

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